Red Wings to name Steve Yzerman general manager
Then Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman scratches his head as he speaks to the media on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Larry Lage, The Associated Press
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 1:50PM EDT
DETROIT -- The Captain is coming home.
Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman will be named general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Friday. Ken Holland will become the team's senior vice-president after being its general manager for two-plus decades, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the move.
Yzerman was a captain for a league-record 20 seasons and a three-time Stanley Cup champion in Detroit, where he is adored by fans and is affectionately known as The Captain.
"Stevie's a fan favourite in Detroit like no other," Toronto coach Mike Babcock told reporters as the Maple Leafs prepared to face Boston in the first round of the playoffs. "I remember one night in Detroit in overtime or the shootout, he jumped over the boards and the place started to shake."
For the second time, the Red Wings hope he can lead their return to glory.
Yzerman is taking the reins of a team that has missed the playoffs three straight years in its worst stretch since the early 1980s when the team was known locally as the "Dead Wings" and needed to give away a car at each home game to get people to attend games.
Detroit drafted Yzerman No. 4 overall in 1983 and he helped turn around the franchise.
As the general manager, he'll have a chance to do it again.
The Red Wings have been rebuilding under Holland, who has created salary cap space, stockpiled draft picks and developed a core of young promising young players such as 22-year-old centre Dylan Larkin.
"Kenny Holland has done a real good job setting up so when the general manager came in, he's ready to go contract-wise, draft-pick wise," said Babcock, who coached Yzerman in his final NHL season and worked with him when he led the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup and Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014. "He's set up and ready to go. They're good friends, they'll work well together.
Yzerman stepped down as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning last year just two days before training camp, triggering talk he would come back to run the Red Wings. Yzerman's contract with the Lightning expired when they were eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs earlier this week by Columbus after tying a league record with 62 wins. He built Tampa Bay into a perennial contender in eight seasons as general manager, making three trips to the conference final and an advancing to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final where the Lightning lost to Chicago.
Yzerman went into management immediately after retiring and Holland was his mentor in the front office. He began his post-playing career as vice-president of hockey operations under Holland in Detroit and was part of the organization as a Stanley Cup winner in 2008 before leaving to lead the Lightning.
Yzerman spent his entire playing career trying with the Red Wings, and his No. 19 jersey is retired along with some of the game's greats such as Gordie Howe in rafters filled with 11 Stanley Cup banners. He is regarded as one of the best leaders in NHL history and developed into a two-way player under Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman after breaking into the league as a skinny, 18-year-old kid talented enough to score 39 goals and have 87 points as a rookie.
His body broke down over time and his 22-season career ended with his retirement in 2006 after leading the Red Wings to titles in 1997, 1998 and 2002. His career ended with 1,755 regular-season points, a total that led all active players when he retired and trailed just five in NHL history.